Talent Evolution Blog by Margaret Graziano

Talent rEvolution Blog by Margaret Graziano

Successful businesses give employees the power to play to their strengths, rather than forcing specific behaviors and skill sets on them. Each person in the workforce has something to contribute, and those talents need to be utilized and valued.

Throughout my career as a recruiter, entrepreneur, business owner and talent evangelist, I have learned what to do and what not to do when it comes to leveraging employee strengths and building powerful teams.

It starts with implementing hiring strategies that clearly outline strengths, behaviors and values of a potential employee — and determining how those ultimately align with your business mission, visions and values.

The HR industry is abuzz about the need to find critical players in a talent-deprived climate. Already too much corporate time, effort and money are being spent on trying to locate virtually impossible to find talent. When business efforts focus on establishing organizational development initiatives, such as building and developing high performance teams, innovation, collaboration and employee engagement dramatically improves

Building a well-rounded group of people who collaboratively bring something much bigger and more impactful to the business is far more beneficial than having employees operate in silos with no common purpose or vision.

In my early days a recruiter, we operated as if we were on our own individual islands. When outside offers to make more money were presented, top producers would jump and typically bring their clients with them. This churn and burn environment amazed me. How could businesses sustain themselves when good people left and took their clients, too?

When I was ready to build my own business, I knew I had to focus on employee optimization, engagement and retention. My goal was to create a company that continually produces revenues and profits because of the systems and infrastructure in place, not because of a few good people who could walk away at any time. This is how KeenAlignment came to be.

I looked at the process we would use to identify candidates, what key strengths were needed to attract and bring in the right talent, what skills it takes to effectively assess and evaluate candidates with the clients’ perspective in mind, what behaviors it took to uncover the real issues, what type of person was great at continually following up, and managing all the hundreds of details we encountered every day.

When you are clear on employees’ strengths up front, you begin to assemble meaningful and productive teams. The thought process goes something like this: “How can I provide a platform for the team to own their collaborative power, and continually take themselves to the next level?”

In business, there is no room for control freaks, or a single command boss on a team. Employees need to feel safe to speak their mind and not withhold constructive criticism and feedback. A sense of urgency needs to be instilled, role alignment and performance expectations need to be mutually agreed on, and creative and collaborative planning and problem solving needs to be the norm.

It is essential each person on the team understand how their role contributes to the momentum to keep things on track and moving forward. And those unwilling to operate at this level ought to be reconsidered for a high performance team. If all team members are aware of expectations up front, and they are slotted in roles that play to their power principles, the team concept works brilliantly.

The best part of all the changes I made in my business and in how I approach leadership is that I now have more free time to pursue what is important to me, above and beyond generating income for my company. The team concept has provided me with freedom, power and full self-expression, as well as allowing me to expand my influence in my immediate community. Perhaps next I will take on the world!

Here’s a video on employee engagement that will provide some tips on how to get the most of your people:

Have you ever thought you hired the workplace version of John Wayne, only to find out you have been duped and ended up with a Woody Allen?

Poor hiring decisions are costly mistakes that can range from 150 to 300 percent of an employee’s base salary. Financial losses include expenses associated with hiring and training, low employee morale and decreased productivity. Plus, poor hiring choices frequently lead to damaged client relationships, loss of new business and business in general, unemployment and more. The bottom line is bad hiring decisions can make or break a business.

AVOID FUTURE BAD HIRES
The two most common hiring traps are hiring in a hurry and hiring the résumé rather than the person. Companies that donʼt have succession plans or fail to practice cross-training often rush to relieve the pain of the empty chair.

Businesses that ignore the hiring process in the interest of expediting it are far more susceptible to missing important clues that could prevent a poor hiring decision. For example, studies on the behaviors of job applicants report that more than 65 percent of all candidates do not prepare their own résumés. Even more unsettling for prospective employers is that more than 45 percent misrepresent their credentials with one or more “tall tales.” From reporting academic degrees never achieved and embellishing roles to listing completely fictitious positions, many of todayʼs job seekers will do whatever they can to appear qualified.

A third and very common trap is to hire on the basis of job descriptions. These typically list a subjective interpretation of required skills and experience. By highlighting only hard skills, they leave out the most critical elements such as key performance objectives, behaviors, values, character traits and soft competencies — the defining criteria that lead to effective performance.

With the war on talent in full force, there is tremendous pressure on hiring managers to keep their organizations fully staffed and productive. But how does one meet these demands without falling into hiring traps? After more than two decades as a recruiter, staffing agency owner, and talent evangelist of KeenAlignment, Iʼve developed an arsenal of practical tips and “insider” tools to empower business owners and HR executives alike with the ability to make informed decisions about their most important resource — their people. Today, I share these with you in a simple step-by-step format.

CREATE AN INTERNAL HIRING PROCESS
If you hire someone you donʼt really know, for a position you have not thoroughly defined, chances are that neither the person nor the position will deliver. Hiring the right people requires implementation of a comprehensive internal hiring process that selects the best and eliminates the rest. And it all starts with benchmarking.

Whether you are benchmarking the role, the top performers in that role, or key traits of the best performers in the company as a whole, the first step is creating the model of what right looks like. Companies that take the time to do so fully understand not only who they need, but also why they need them. These are the companies that excel in the employee-selection process and the capacity to build a “dream team.”

WHAT RIGHT LOOKS LIKE
Before you evaluate your immediate needs, evaluate the company and team. This is called the Internal Human Capital Inventory and Assessment, and it involves:

Evaluate Your Core Culture

  • Acknowledge and prorate your core values
  • Assess the character quotient of your company
  • Identify the non-negotiable character traits or core values for your company

Evaluate Your Current Team

  • Identify your key players and what innate abilities and traits make them successful
  • Identify whatʼs working on the team and what isnʼt
  • Identify what elements are missing on the team that would make a positive difference

Implement a System for Evaluating and Selecting New Hires and Internal Promotions

  • Establish and cross-train to hiring protocol
  • Create company-wide candidate screening ground rules
  • Create a Comprehensive Position Requirement (CPR) for every role
  • Validate, select and utilize the right assessment tools
  • Create behavioral-based interview models for each role in the company
  • Establish a decision-making matrix

HIRING TECHNIQUES THAT SAVE MONEY
Next, focus on the needs of the business and how each role is attached to the key performance indicators of the company as a whole. When you are clear on the performance objectives for each role in the company and how those affect the big picture of service, sales, retention and profitability, it is much easier to determine who the best person is for each role. Here are some holistic hiring techniques we use as part of our Conscious Hiring process:

Hire Right the First Time

  • Thoroughly define each role in your company
  • Define specific success outcomes that are expected in the role
  • Isolate the CAN DO (Intellectual Quotient)
  • Isolate the WILL DO (Emotional Quotient)
  • Isolate the FIT IN (Character Quotient)

Follow the Hiring Protocol

  • Train each hiring manager on the CPR for his/her positions
  • Conduct a preplanned behavioral-based telephone screening
  • Employ a cursory pre-interview assessment
  • Formulate a position-specific interviewing guide for managers to follow
  • Make hiring decisions according to the predetermined hiring matrix

Create A Succinct On-Boarding Process 

  • Socialization –consistent on-boarding is critical
  • Manager – new employee meeting
  • Game Plan – expectations, communication, work style

With consistent hiring procedures, your company will sail through dangerous hiring traps, turn the tables on the mishaps of poor hiring, and reap the benefits that come with having the right people in the right roles.

Here is a video on why Conscious Hiring works. Enjoy!

Today’s workforce is unfortunately more disengaged than ever. Perhaps it is because of the generational shift from boomers to millennials, or maybe because people are generally disenchanted with our changing society — whether it’s the effect of politics, government, religion, healthcare or the environment.

Many employees are skeptical of their leaders, influenced by what they see or read in the media. Honestly I don’t blame them. It has become a very tumultuous and confusing time in our country. This is why we need to work even harder to unleash true potential in the workplace and enable employees to follow their paths toward fulfillment.

Certainly, we can play victim to this employee disenchantment or be at the forefront of addressing workforce needs and wants. One way we can begin to make a difference in the world of work is disrupting traditional approaches in human resources.

But first, you need to become aware of your own personal and professional barriers that impede effectiveness. Take time to reflect on your own accomplishments and shortcomings. Most barriers we experience begin within ourselves. When you begin to see yourself more clearly, you can make a real difference in your workplace.

Rather than focusing solely on the traditional day-to-day wheel spinning and cleanup patrol typical of HR, you need to secure a seat at the strategic table. It is amazing how many high level HR execs are never invited to strategic planning or high level business meetings. This has to change!

You are exposed to so much relevant information daily. You need to advocate to be part of the strategic process, especially when it comes to hiring, onboarding and optimizing talent in the organization.

The next step to disrupt HR tradition is a paramount shift in hiring practices.

It’s time to step beyond resumes and cover letters to manage your talent, and begin to consciously attract and bring in the right people based on measurable traits, behaviors and characteristics. Then once a new hire is onboard, make a commitment to nurture, develop and empower them to win through ongoing training, development and communication.

 Measuring this transformational hiring mindset in your organization would look something like this:

  • From head count to contribution margin
  • From filling jobs to achieving business results
  • From people are lucky to work here to
    we are lucky to access our people’s talent while they are here.

Your job is to empower people at work, so the business and workforce can flourish. It is no longer okay to just blend in and go along with the crazy and unproductive way things are done. Be a change agent, not only for yourself…for the entire world of work.

Shift your mindset and begin to share your insight. Redefine your role, leverage your value and measure your personal contribution margin. Make yourself known and let your value shine. And make sure the leadership team is aware of it.

Grow beyond an order taker to a difference maker. Once you transform how you see yourself and the value you can bring to the workplace and workforce, you can begin to make great progress in affecting turnover, employee engagement and productivity. Give it a try. You have nothing to lose and so very much to gain!

Being an effective leader of people in today’s world seems to be much more complicated than in years past. In the previous century, for the vast majority, work was approached as a means for survival. The level of employee engagement did not dictate how long they stayed in the role.

That’s different today, however. Working class people want more stimulating and rewarding work, as well as inspiring work environments where they can make a difference and grow themselves and their careers.

Global workforce surveys report highly qualified, motivated people chose  companies who build strong, inspiring cultures and monitor, as well as address workplace culture and climate issues as they arise. If recruitment and retention of highly qualified, motivated people is one your organization‘s initiatives, raising your leadership IQ ought to be another. They go hand in hand.

Leaders in the early 21st century face unprecedented challenges. They must be able lead three completely different generations of people — all with different operating contexts and outlooks on what work is all about. Today’s leaders must not only understand their competitors for customers, they must also understand their competitors for the talent.

21st century leaders must have well-honed human awareness acumen and call on it moment-by-moment to inspire, enroll and engage their employees. These leaders must understand the systemic impacts of their company ‘climate’ and be willing to look deeper to understand cultural norms that are impeding agility and innovation. They must have the finesse to weave the day-to-day task work into the big picture and inspire their people to give it their all for the sake of the mission. Today’s leaders need to understand people at their core like never before.

Your Leadership IQ relies on your ability to grow, learn and master new ways to lead people, and there are three tenets to consider when boosting it: self-awareness, executive brain function, and response agility.

  1. Self-awareness
    Self-awareness begins with the curiosity and courage to hear what works and does not work about your leadership and the culture that exists in the organization. Once you become aware of your competitive talent advantages and your talent barriers from the eyes of your people, you are equipped to take powerful action. Self-awareness allows you to leverage your talent and intervene when and where necessary to remove those personality ticks that are in the way of your true leadership potential.Culture and climate awareness opens the door for you to see what is really going on and intervene in the cultural norms and barriers that are in the way of employee engagement, innovation and synchronicity. When you are curious and courageous you begin to ask the tough questions and hear the tough answers. When you do this, you begin to see what “blind spots” may be hidden from your view and you learn what you to that sabotages or impedes your leadership effectiveness.Self-Awareness is the doorway to emotional intelligence and it gives you access to real improvement as well as personal and professional development. Self-Awareness is not always easy. In almost every case with every human being there are aspects of personality or behavior that has a negative impact on others, and with an authentic look in the mirror an aware leader can begin to take responsibility for that negative impact.. Being aware of our negative behaviors, alone, is insufficient.

    Taking responsibility for the impact of those behaviors, asking for forgiveness and and working to shift those limiting ways of being is where leadership mastery begins. Once a leader has mastered self-awareness they optimize their ability to leverage situational awareness; which is fundamental to assessing, evaluating and intervening if need be, in the ebbs and flow of the climate and culture of their organization.

  1. Executive Brain Function
    Optimizing your executive brain function is a secret weapon of boosting your leadership IQ. The PFC, prefrontal cortex, is where the executive brain operates; it is like the controls in a cockpit. This is the part of our brain where strategic thinking, collaboration, reasoning and creativity come from. The problem is most leaders learn over time to depend and lean on one hemisphere and become complacent in allowing that hemisphere to run the show. This limits the airplane’s ability to navigate through storms and soar to new heights.The left hemisphere of our brain is where our organization, categorizing, reasoning, and strategizing come from. It is in the right hemisphere where brainstorming, innovation, collaboration, and relationship abilities are housed. When a leader is aware of their goals and vision, as well as in control (conscious) of their thoughts, responses, and well-being—and the leader leverages both hemispheres of their executive brain through right/left hemisphere integration—their leadership intelligence and effectiveness skyrockets. When a leader is utilizing all of their capacities, they see things they might not see and are more equipped to respond to climate and culture barriers and infringements.
  1. Response Agility
    Response Agility is the ability to respond in an appropriate, controlled manner—regardless of the current stress or breakdown the leader is facing. Being agile with response and reaction is key to effective leadership. Flat line reaction is not appropriate for all situations. Screaming and yelling is not appropriate for any situation. Anger and frustration might be needed at times, and curiosity and collaboration may be needed at other times.Agility in your response means that you have trained yourself to think before reacting. Effective leaders ask themselves, “What is needed now?” This has everything to do with situational awareness and appropriate reaction. When stress hits the fan at work, a leader who has a handle on how they respond, and can coach others in this manner, is a leader who is positively contributing to a healthy company climate and culture. Response Agility takes discipline, awareness, new habit formation and commitment and is a core component of Leadership IQ.

Being a mission-driven leader who inspires people to give their best in service of a compelling vision is a key element of today’s most successful leaders. They know that most people they hire are not coming to work simply for a paycheck; these leaders have a keen awareness that many people they hire are coming to work to fulfill their individual purpose in a way that supports the organizational purpose.

Today’s highly effective leaders understand how to inspire spirit de corps and leverage their communications with people to do so. They utilize their people intelligence to tie work responsibilities and tasks to the overall intention for and strategy of the business. Lastly these leaders understand the difference between climate and culture and have the aptitude to know how and when to intervene in both.

Learning the fundamentals of how people operate and how to inspire them is the easy part. Mastering those skills is leadership intelligence. Turning your leadership intelligence into your competitive talent advantage is the number one way to impact recruitment and retention of the best people.

Companies that have not caught up to modern employee engagement strategies often feel frustrated their vision is not shared and executed by all of the people on their team. But effective business leaders know that in order for that to happen, employees need to feel valued, engaged, and like their work contributes to the greater whole. Continue reading

You know that a mis-hire carries with it a financial impact that can last for months on end. But there are other more subtle costs associated with mis-hiring that many, even in the HR field, don’t consider or don’t put enough weight into. In fact, these can last for years, long after the financial impact is absorbed. Continue reading

Here are the 5 best strategies to keep employee turnover to a minimum.

1. Hire the Right Candidates in the First Place

The best way to reduce employee turnover is to get the hiring process right, starting with recruiting the right type of person for the position. Sell the organization and position to the best candidates by appealing to their particular passion or why they are the right fit for the culture. Continue reading

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